Historical information

The firm Dring and Fage were active from 1790 to 1940 in London and were manufacturers of hydrometers and mathematical instruments they became established in London in 1790 by John Dring, who was a brass worker and hydrometer maker, and William Fage. Dring and Fage manufactured also saccharometers and other instruments used to measure the strength of alcohol. These instruments were primarily used to calculate excises. They traded at various addresses in London and they were at 56 Stamford St. between 1903 and 1938. By 1850 the company was owned by Edward Hall and Edward Jenkin and in 1940 the company became Dring & Fage Ltd, trading till the 1960s.


Historically, gauging has meant measuring a volume, these gauging instruments were used by Customs and Excise and manufacturers for determining the volume and contents of liquid containers. For Customs the determination and collection of duty on imported goods which has had a very long history. Chaucer was a Customs Officer as was his father and grandfather, excise was first officially introduced in 1643, with the aim of maintaining military forces raised by the English Parliament at that time. Excise was initially a duty on home produced alcoholic beverages and soap but being easily applied, spread rapidly to a wide range of goods including imports of varying kinds. The government departments of Customs and Excise merged only in 1909 and it is from around this time that our instrument was made and used. The item demonstrates a long social history of the practice of Government's collecting duty on alcoholic beverages and thereby makes this item historically significant as it was used locally at Port Fairy by the ports Customs agents.

Physical description

Gauging rod or bung rod; ullaging gauge. Long brown wooden gauging rod with brass tips and sliding brass marker. Measurements are marked along the length of the rod. Used for measuring volume of liquor in casks in order for Customs to calculate excise (tax) on the contents. Made by Dring & Fage, London.

Inscriptions & markings

Engraved “Dring & Fage 56 Stamford St London